Soda is seeking ambitious female entrepreneurs from Aotearoa New Zealand to apply for RISE UP and be in to win $10,000. Applications for the pre-acceleration programme and seed grant are now open.

Soda is passionate about supporting women in business, says CEO Erin Wansbrough.

“To start your own business you need a brilliant idea, business acumen, tenacity and dedication. But to succeed you also need external support and money. For female founders, that support and financial backing is often harder to obtain.

“We created RISE UP in 2021 to address New Zealand’s entrepreneurship gender imbalance which sits at just 21.6 percent for female-led startups.

“While $10,000 in prize money is certainly a drawcard, RISE UP is more than a cash injection. We have created a programme that will challenge and enhance our finalists’ business skills and knowledge. Just as important is creating a community of like-minded female founders who can support one another as they strive to create successful businesses.”

Applications for RISE UP are now open and close on 23 June 2023. To be eligible you need to be a female founder or female-led business that is pre or early revenue and less than three years old. The business must be scalable or have some unique intellectual property.

Soda will select five female-led businesses to participate in a pre-acceleration programme consisting of online founder-focused workshops on topics such as branding, marketing, pitch coaching and raising capital as a female.

The competition will culminate in a pitch night on 29 August 2023 where the five finalists will pitch their business idea to a public audience in The Atrium, Wintec House, Hamilton. A panel of high-profile judges will select a winner who will receive $10,000 cash to help propel their business to the next level. The event will be open to the public with guests encouraged to vote for a People's Choice winner.

Jane Allan, Finery founder, won RISE UP 2022 and says: “Winning RISE UP was affirmation that we were on the right track. The RISE UP programme enabled us to deep dive into our business and, in a short space of time, we made a huge amount of progress. From the day we became a finalist it has felt like an inclusive, professional and nurturing journey.”

RISE UP 2023 is powered by platinum sponsor, Callaghan Innovation and gold sponsor Craigs Investment Partners.

To find out more and apply, go to